CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Photo All-in-One Printer 922 with USB 2.0 Cable review: Photo All-in-One Printer 922 with USB 2.0 Cable

Photo All-in-One Printer 922 with USB 2.0 Cable

Kristina Blachere
5 min read
The Dell S2500n is the company's sole business-oriented offering in its new line of self-branded printers. Like the new A940 and P1500 printers, the S2500n is manufactured by Lexmark and sold and supported by Dell. Despite Dell's association, nothing has changed much about the printer, except the average user will pay a little less for the printer and enjoy the company's comprehensive service and support. Beyond that, the printer's plastics are so flimsy that we wonder if it would really stand up to constant traffic. For a bit more cash, you can get better output quality with a small-business-oriented laser such as the Xerox Phaser 4400. Nevertheless, for small-business owners, for whom time and money are at a premium, the S2500n's speed and reasonable price may make these flaws worth overlooking. Like the two other printers in Dell's new line, the A940 and the P1500, the S2500n is encased in gray and black plastic that matches the company's notebooks and desktop PCs. Coordinated colors aside, the S2500n looks much like any other business-oriented laser printer. It's a big, heavy block with a paper input cassette on the bottom and a face-up output tray on the top. In addition, a multipurpose feeder tray flips out of the front belly of the printer and acts as a manual feed tray for letterhead, envelopes, and other unusual media.

Color-coordinated with Dell PCs.

High-capacity but flimsy paper trays.

But while the design and layout of the trays are solid and standard issue, the quality of the plastics leans toward cheap and flimsy. The paper rest at the edge of the output tray keeps prints from cascading out onto the floor, but it looks and feels rickety, and the extension segments that slide and fold out of the multipurpose tray to accommodate legal and A4-sized paper seem like they might snap off quite easily. For small offices with careful employees, these parts shouldn't pose a problem. But if you're buying this printer for a corporate workgroup that tends to use a lot of specialty paper, you might want to go with a sturdier but more expensive printer such as the Xerox Phaser 4400N.

Many connectivity options.
Dell's S2500n has nearly all the features we'd expect from a comparably priced network-laser printer. It comes with a built-in 10/100 BaseT Ethernet port, plus a parallel port and USB connectivity for non-network use (no cables included). The S2500n supports PS 3, PCL 6, and PCL 5e print languages and multiple versions of Windows, Novell, and Linux operating systems.
Between its 250-sheet input cassette and 100-sheet multipurpose feeder, the S2500n holds 350 sheets of paper, total. The output tray holds 100 sheets of paper. Growing offices will appreciate being able to add on a 250- or 500-sheet input cassette (these snap on under the existing input tray and cost $139 and $189, respectively) for a total input capacity of 1,100 pages. You can also opt to increase the printer's existing 32MB of RAM to a total of 288MB, which will give you more memory for large or multiple print jobs. Overall, these features add up to more than you'd get with a similarly priced business laser such as the Xerox Phaser 3400's network-ready version.
The Dell S2500n's installation software is quite user-friendly, even for non-IT types. To install the printer on a network, just follow the clear, step-by-step instructions. There's no need to suffer through Flash animation or the coddling baby talk you sometimes get from personal printer installation help, which we find inappropriate for this type of printer. Once the printer is set up, the drivers offer an excellent range of choices in a simple, well-organized format. For example, a series of horizontal tabs give access to basic adjustments, such as Setup (document orientation, n-up printing), and more advanced options such as Graphic, where you can choose between XL, Raster, and GL/2 modes and fine-tune the dithering and contrast.

The Dell S2500n did quite well in CNET Labs' speed-performance tests. It averaged 13.3 pages per minute (ppm) on text and 8.8ppm on graphics, which put it just in line with or slightly faster than its comparably priced competition, the Xerox Phaser 3400.
Laser printer speed (personal and workgroup)
Pages per minute (Longer bars indicate better performance)

Xerox Phaser 4400N
Brother HL-1850
Dell S2500n
Minolta PagePro 1250E
Our print-quality tests, however, told a slightly different story. While our jury rated the text good overall, close scrutiny revealed that small text (2 to 3 points) looked blotchy and hard to read. Even larger text (9 to 12 points) suffered from extraneous dots, feathering, and visible blotchiness. These flaws are mostly imperceptible to the casual observer, but we were surprised to see them in a laser printer--they're the kinds of imperfections one generally sees in an inkjet that lacks precise, laser-fused printing.
Inkjet printer quality
Poor   ••Fair   •••Good   ••••Excellent
 Printer  Text  Graphics
 Brother HL-1850 •••• •••
 Dell S2500n ••• ••
 Minolta PagePro 1250E •••• •••
 Xerox Phaser 4400N ••• •••
Graphics were even more disappointing. Right away, our jury noticed that the pure black portions of our test document looked shiny and almost scaly, even when laid flat on a table. The photo elements of our test document were blocky and looked like newsprint, and the gradient elements contained a lot of noise. On a positive note, the S2500n did well with shading; there was a subtle visible difference between 100 and 90 percent on the black end of the spectrum and 0 and 5 percent on the white end.
According to our calculations, the Dell S2500n doesn't use much toner. A high-yield cartridge will run you $169 and print 10,000 pages for an average cost of less than 2 cents per page. Dell also sells a 5,000-page cartridge for $129 and--best of all--use-and-return versions of each cartridge for $94 and $129, respectively.

Dell offers comprehensive service and support for the S2500n. Business users will appreciate the one-year warranty, which includes onsite service. You can also upgrade to a two-, three-, or four-year plan for $99, $129, and $209. With the standard warranty, you get access to Dell's toll free, 24/7 phone tech support for the life of the printer. Dell's Web site also has a wealth of support options such as e-mail, a searchable knowledge base, downloadable drivers, and community forums for discussion with other users. Lexmark offers virtually the same resources, minus the user forum.

Photo All-in-One Printer 922 with USB 2.0 Cable

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 9Performance 6Support 9